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February 28, 2013 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Demolition is beginning (de) on part of Berlin's East Side Gallery (img, img, panorama) "...the 1.3km-long outdoor gallery, which is covered in paintings by artists from around the world, is now threatened by the city's strident advance of gentrification, with a significant section of it due to be dismantled soon to make way for a luxury block of flats." (en)

The gallery was started in 1990, with artists painting the east side of a still-standing section of the wall along the Spree. It is now the largest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. Exhaust fumes, water, souvenir-hunters and graffiti have all damaged the paintings. The various restoration attempts have involved ownership and copyright disputes.
posted by frimble (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ist das Kunst, oder kann das weg?
posted by chillmost at 9:46 AM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Except for the astonishing picture of the "old men kissing", a lot of the art on the wall of the East Side Gallery is ugly and annoying. I am not so bugged that it is being taken down. What I am annoyed with is that some very good clubs in that area were already shut down to make room for these sort of luxury apartments. (R.I.P. Maria Club & Chez Jacky)

Berlin still has a glut of housing. Rental rates are extremely low compared to other European cities, but demand for cheap housing is high in certain areas. This is true in Kreuzberg/Friedrichshain where these condos are going to be built. The area is still a wasteland of closed warehouses, but the people who live there are searching for that. The demand is from artists and club kids who can't afford luxury apartments, and want to live "squat style".

Berlin's other luxury endeavours have been pretty bad. The Potsdammer Platz area is still full of empty luxury apartments that nobody who wants can afford, and nobody who can afford wants. Hauptbahnhof's stunning architecture houses a business complex that is mostly empty. The owners are eating their losses on these projects, but refuse to drop prices.

What's really gross about the gentrification of this area of Berlin is that it's forced. It's not the usual sort of thing where rich people move to a part of the city and change it over time (that happened in the Prenzlauer Berg area). Instead this is a developer who sees a business opportunity bringing luxury apartments to a "cool" part of town, but businesswise will burn money for at least a decade while displacing clubs and bars that are making money and enlivening the area right now.
posted by sixohsix at 9:47 AM on February 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

posted by chrysanthemum at 9:56 AM on February 28, 2013

I traveled through Berlin in 1995, stayed for a week right in the heart of crumbling Mitte in a fifth floor flat that had no elevator, no telephone, no shower or bath. I loved it. Essentially what had happened was, when the wall went down, everybody from the former east who had any kind of monetary ambition moved west ... and suddenly there was all this empty space in the heart of town, which had been bombed to rubble in WW2 then hastily rebuilt by the Russians (using original blueprints, but often as not cheaper materials, hence all the crumbling). Anyway, where rents are cheap/non-existent, artists, students etc move in, culture erupts ... bars and clubs and galleries and flea markets popping up everywhere. One particular custom I loved was, because so many people didn't have telephones, it was accepted that, as of 6pm, if you were home (and most people were at dinner time), you had to be ready for guests, some beer in the fridge, something to munch on.

But it was already very clear in 1995 that none of this was going to last. The gentrifying was already happening with a vengeance all over (and everyone was getting cellphones). Indeed Mitte, at that unique moment, was nothing if not a living, breathing T.A.Z. ... doomed and thus all the more beautiful.
posted by philip-random at 10:15 AM on February 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

This sucks. I went to Berlin this past summer and loved the heck of out of this wall - and in fact, my Metafilter profile photo is me in front of one of the paintings in the section to be removed.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:08 PM on February 28, 2013

I used to live just on the other side of the river. My step-dad, to whom I haven't had contact in thirty years or so, contributed some of the art - I found out by googling his name that you can buy cups with it on Zazzle, so I bought it. It's the only thing I have from him, a cup that says "Do or die" and "Fight your misery", which printed on a cup and used in an office sitting in front of a computer is probably the exact opposite of whatever he wanted to say (he lives somewhere in the mountains without electricity, as far as I know).
posted by dhoe at 12:21 PM on February 28, 2013

Einst├╝rzende Neubauten performance piece, perhaps?
posted by ShutterBun at 12:33 PM on February 28, 2013

Surprised there's no listed/protected status.
posted by Segundus at 12:35 PM on February 28, 2013

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